About The Country Wife Blog

Friday, September 30, 2016

Food Friday: Homemade Apple Butter in Crock Pot

We came into some apples that had seen better days. I did not want to throw them out since there were parts of each apple that were still good. I also did not want to make apple pies on this occasion...no place to store the pies (especially not in my tummy!) and not life enough to drive them to donate....so I thought of apple butter.

This is what I did:

Washed and cored apples.

Chopped apples into large pieces.

Filled 5-quart crock pot bowl/ceramic insert with apple chunks.
Filled crock pot...about 15 apples

In a medium bowl put:
   1.5 cups apple cider
   1.5 cups brown sugar
   1.5 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
   1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
   1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Spices in a bowl

Stirred these ingredients together then poured over apple pieces in crock pot.  With long-handled wooden spoon, stirred the apples and spice slurry together until all apples were coated.

Put the cover on the crock pot and turned on crock pot to heat for 4 hours on HIGH setting.  Stirred at least every hour.  After 4 hours, turned crock pot to LOW setting and heated for 10 more hours (overnight).

In the morning let apples cool for an hour then in batches put apple butter into blender and blended for 1-2 minutes until all the apple peels were totally pulverized.  (I wanted the peels to be in with the apples-not what most recipes call for-so there would be a little more fiber in the finished apple butter.)
Cooked-down apples and spices

Returned the completely pulverized apples to the crock pot bowl and continued heating on HIGH for 1-2 hours, stirring AT LEAST every 30 minutes, until the apple butter was the texture/thickness I like.  Well, actually it was a little less thick than normal apple butter, but my view is that often apple butter is brown sludge, which I don't find appealing, texture-wise.  For this last stage of cooking, I put the cover on ajar so more of the steam would escape to bring the apple butter to a pleasing thickness, but which would keep any splatters from getting out onto the wall or counter. (Cleaning spatters off walls is not always completely successful. I hate to have to scrub AND repaint the kitchen walls...)

After the finished apple butter cooled, I pulled out some pretty good homemade whole wheat bread, put on some apple butter, gave one slice to Dear One, and ate one slice myself. It was pretty tasty.  Even Dear One said so.

Finally, I put the apple butter into jars.  This amount made four jars.
1 pint and a half jar, 1 pint jar, 2 half-pint jars
Pretty fun and easy project with good results.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Healthy Thursday: 5K Walk!

A month or six weeks ago a friend invited me to participate in a 5K walk for diabetes.  Family and friends have fun in marathons, half-marathons, lots of 5Ks, and even Century Bike Rides.  Surely I could do a 5K walk, so I put it on the calendar.

This morning I left the house with my stroller at about 8:45AM and drove reasonably fast to the starting point, signed the waiver (which include animal bites and falls!!!), used the facilities, picked up a bottle of water and a banana and headed out 8 minutes before the crowd was scheduled to leave.

There were lots of things to see along the way:  a youngster soccer game, some plants I had never seen before, some stone railway markers....B 137...no idea what that meant, for quite a while. In fact, until I saw a B 138 which I thought must have meant I had walked a mile. I did not know what the B was for, though.

Boston  138 miles to go!

Multiple bridges, a couple of road crossings, and 50 minutes later I came to a sign telling me I had reached the turnaround point!  That made me very happy!  Probably a quarter of a mile back down the track the rest of the walkers passed me, moving fast.

Interesting plants.

At the turnaround point I stopped and sat on the stroller seat, pulled off my shoes and removed as much gravel as I could then returned the shoes to my feel, and headed back to the starting point.  I hoped the trip back would go faster.  After a while the friend who had invited me and the Walk organizers caught up with me going to the turnaround.  They must have stopped for a while there, taking down the sign, and then headed back to home base.  They passed me some time later.

WRJ 5 marker....almost done!

When I came to the stone marker I saw on the outbound trip, I noted that it said:  WRJ 6.  OH!  I got it then:  it was six miles to White River Junction.  The other side of the marker said B 138...must mean 138 miles to Boston.  Duh!  This used to be a railroad track that had been turned into a hiking trail.

Eventually I did get back to the starting point.  There was a woman there with a camera who told me that now I got to have my picture taken...not something I really enjoy but she said she took everyone's photographs, so I let it happen.

End of the Line!

Several people smiled at me and I was handed a beautiful yellow chrysanthemum and told, "Congratulations!"   That was so nice. I love flowers.  Of course, I think it might have been a relief to the organizers to have me cross the finish line because then they could comfortably go home knowing all the walkers had come in.

It was a nice day.  Shins and ankles recognize the effort!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Instant Pot Food: Vigo Rice

So far, after about two months, I am still so very happy with the Instant Pot (IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6 Qt/1000W)  that I purchased on Amazon after watching multiple YouTube videos using this piece of equipment. It is worth saving up the money to purchase one. I am only sad that I was unaware of the special cyber sale day in July when they were 50 percent off!  Maybe Black Friday in November will have them available someplace for a good savings if you want to get one.

Anyway, this is a meal I made recently.

Dear One did not want leftovers.  Well, what else is new?!!  I thought with the instant pot I could make a pretty quick and easy meal with no leftovers.  Of course, the possible problem here is that there would not be ENOUGH for a meal....

What I did:

Washed, cut in half and removed the seeds and pithy membranes from one red bell pepper then chopped finely. (Vegetable chunks of any reasonable size are not welcomed by Dear One so VERY TINY pieces need to be provided, and that is tiny pieces PRIOR to cooking!)

Peeled and cut in half one sweet onion.  Rapidly sliced the onion.  (Had accident with the sharp serrated knife...)

Tossed the pepper and all the onion  into the instant pot then added the contents of the Vigo yellow rice package plus 2 cups water.  At this point I was not sure of what settings to use because everyone does things differently with their I-pots.  I pressed the "Manual" button then decreased the time from 30 minutes to 8 minutes.  I think I had already put the cover on and moved the gadget on top to pressure or steaming or whatever it says.  And walked away!

When the pressure had built up (probably about 10 minutes, maybe a little more) the timer started counting down.  When the timer dinged I was so happy. I left the pot in the warming mode for about 5 minutes then VERY CAREFULLY moved the gadget on top to "Venting" and let the pressure go down instantly (more or less instantly because I had let it alone for 5 minutes...) and removed the cover with the steam escaping out the back AWAY from my face.  (Did not want to add scald burns to my face in addition to the sliced finger to go with this meal...!)

Finished Vigo rice supper.  Yay!  It worked.

The rice was beautifully cooked and tasted pretty good.  We will probably have this again.  After I buy more emergency Vigo rice packets...

There was enough for two servings.  NO LEFTOVERS. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Handwork of a Different Kind: Boo Boo

Recently I was doing a chopping/slicing-vegetable project. I was kind of pressed for time, at least in my own mind, so I was hurrying.

Whammo!  Zappo!  Blood started spraying out of my left index finger at about the same time that I felt a searing pain.  Rats!  I had sliced into my finger. 

Quickly I pressed my thumb into the injured finger, thinking it would stop the blood flow.  I still had more chopping to do so I shook of the idea of discomfort and kept going until the onion was completely sliced.  Sadly, there seemed to still be oozing blood that would not stop.  I think part of the problem was that I was using a serrated knife which did a whale of a job slicing through unresisting skin.

Finger sliced with the offending knife

After a while I washed the site well and realized that I had not sliced INTO my finger, I had sliced OFF some of the finger.  Icky!  Really icky!

Well, it did start healing but now, several days later every time I inadvertently tap that part of my finger into something, I know it!  Eventually it will heal completely; new skin will grow; and those quick zaps of sharp pain with recede into nothingness. At least, I expect that will happen.

SO  the tip of the day is:  be slow and methodical when chopping and slicing with a sharp knife.  And especially BE CAREFUL!  It slows up progress towards goal to have accidents.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Munchie Monday: Eggplant Chips!

Have you ever made eggplant chips?  I don't think I have made them before.  There probably is a recipe somewhere but I did not check.

Sarah and her dear children brought us some zucchini, summer squash, and a beautiful eggplant today.  Immediately I knew what I wanted to do.

This is what I did:

Preheated the oven to 350 degrees F.

Took a rimmed baking pan and spread a little basil olive oil on the pan.

Cut the eggplant into quarter-inch coins. Placed the eggplant slices on the pan.  Drizzled with a little more olive oil then sprinkled on some Montreal Steak Seasoning on top.

Baked for 20 minutes.  Removed the pan from the oven and turned over the slices.

Baked another 25 minutes.  Checked them but thought they needed some more heating.

Baked a final 20 minutes, then turned off the oven, leaving the chips in the oven to cool.

These taste amazing!  They are nice and crispy.  Of course, Dear One does not have any interest.  No problem,  all the more for me!

One note:  the "crumbs" you see on the baking sheet under the eggplant chips are actually the remaining Tajin Classico that I used to make some Spicy Chips that I found on I Sing In The Kitchen blog.  That mixed with the basil olive oil (I took some basil stems and put them in a small jar and covered with olive oil and let it sit for several weeks to infuse...nice flavor.)  made a nice "underpinning" for the eggplant slices.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Food Friday: Black Beans, Onions, Summer Squash, and Garlic

Ok, the headline probably will not catch a lot of positive eyes, but I LOVE black beans.  And onions. And garlic.  And even zucchini and yellow summer squash.

The story here:
The other night I was at the Church.  Sarah had been in the serving area with some interesting-looking food on the counter in a nice clear square container.  The top was off and it smelled heavenly.  I WAS hungry, after all.  When I was back in the serving area a while later there she was with her children.  I asked what the lovely container held (I like the container, too!).  This is what she told me: a yellow and a green summer squash, an onion, 1 clove of garlic, one can of black beans.

This is what I did:

2 small (6-7 inches long) zucchini squash, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
3 1/2 cups home-cooked black beans--about 2 cans

Melted the coconut oil in a 12-inch skillet.  Added the onions and zucchini and stirred a bit then sautéed until they are pretty soft and beginning to lightly brown probably 6-8 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and cook another minute or two until garlic is fragrant.  Add the black beans and stir until well combined.  Serve or store.

This made three containers that I will try not to eat all in one day!
Finished black beans, zucchini, onions, and garlic.  Yummy!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Garden Fun: Tomato Nose

One of the best things about gardening is that sometimes you get some unusual fruit.  It tickles my sense of humor when our garden produces a fruit like this:

Tomato Nose!

I love this tomato's nose.  I intend to share this tomato with a friend, if I can get to see her before it goes by.  Better hurry....

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Handwork: Three Zippered Bags

Barnyard Quilts is a wonderful place.  The fabric is good.  The staff will machine quilt blankets that customers bring in.  They also have classes.  This last weekend there was a class on making three different zippered bags. 

One of my main vices is the collection of bags. I love bags. I REALLY love zippered bags of all kinds.  I have watched many YouTube videos on making zippered bags, since I much prefer bags that can be closed to keep the contents secure. Even watching all the videos, I did not get many new bags made.  I just needed a little one-on-one assistance, I guess.

These are the bags I made:

The yellow and gold fabric came from Four Pines Quilt shop.  The interior of the small bag shows the oilcloth interior.  The square bag has the same oilcloth interior.  The upright bag on the left has a self lining with the addition of interlining to give the sturdiness necessary to keep the bag upright when you want to fill it up.

The class was very enjoyable.  The teacher was remarkable. 

One pretty funny thing:  one of the young girls taking the class noticed when I was finishing the square bag.  She said, "Oh!  That is the same way you make the market bag!  You MUST make the market bag."

 I told her I like bags.  She said, "Me, too!  I have five purse hooks to hang up all my bags!"  A young woman after my own heart!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

More on Toddler Hoodie Project

Yesterday I finished the little green and navy toddler hoodie sweater.  It came out pretty well.   I had hoped to find a 12-month-old toddler to try the sweater on to see if this is actually a true size.  Have not yet found one...

The completed sweater.
 The buttons are the cutest thing ever!  I was so happy to find these ladybird beetle buttons.

Buttons up closer

The detail of the stocking stitch that I was knitting early on, before I learned how to make the Norwegian purl.  You can see how every over row was uneven, making a sort of washboard-like look.  If you look at the hood, you can see that the Norwegian purl makes a much more even fabric.  
Detail of unevenly knit stockinette stitch.
Now to make the charity version for the Yarn Hound!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Munchie Monday: 3-Ingredient Waffles

Betty sent me a recipe yesterday.  I tried it for breakfast today.  It was a success.  Not an astounding success, but at least it got a half-a-thumb up from Dear One.

This is the recipe:
3 C oats, 2 1/2 C water and one banana put into blender

Completed 3-ingredient waffles.

This is what I did:

Got out the Bosch mixer and attached blender jar.

Put in 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, 1 1/4 cups warm water, and 1 small VERY ripe banana.

Blended on high speed for 2-3 minutes, until completely smooth.

In the meantime, I put the waffle iron heating.

To bake the waffles, I sprayed the hot iron with vegetable oil spray then put 1/2 cup of batter onto the iron and closed until the "done" light came on.

This half-recipe that I made gave us 3 1/2 waffles.  I ate three of the hearts.  Dear One finished off all the rest. Well, who couldn't when topped with 1/4 of pure Vermont maple syrup!!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Food Friday: Another in a String of Food Failures

Dear One wanted me to make muffin tops for the early morning food.  This is the recipe I used which I found here.

Blueberry Muffin Tops
  1. For batter
    • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
    • 1/3 cup whole milk
    • 1 whole large egg
    • 1 large yolk
    • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups fresh blueberries (12 oz)
  2. For topping
    • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
    • Special equipment: 2 muffin-top pans, each with 6 (4- by 1/2-inch) muffin-top cups (1/2-cup capacity)*; or regular muffin pans
  1. Make batter:
    1. Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Generously butter muffin pans.
    2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, then remove from heat. Whisk in milk, then whisk in whole egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined well.
    3. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then add milk mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in blueberries gently but thoroughly.
    4. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups, spreading evenly.
  2. Make topping and bake muffins:
    1. Rub together all topping ingredients in a bowl with your fingertips until crumbly, then sprinkle evenly over batter in cups.
    2. Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick or skewer inserted diagonally into center of a muffin comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
    3. Cool in pans on a rack 15 minutes, then run a knife around edge of each muffin top and carefully remove from cups. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    4. *Available at cookware shops and cooking.com.
      Bottom Side Up Muffin Tops, not cooled for 15 minutes before removing from pan.

This is what I did differently.
 The muffin top pan I have has 12 holes in it.  I used vegetable oil spray and sprayed very well.   I did not make the topping, having planned to sprinkle sugar over the top. I forgot to do that sprinkling.  I used an extra large egg instead of 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk.  I needed to add a few tablespoons of extra milk to make it a better batter.

Looking at the recipe as I write this post, I see that I was supposed to let the muffins tops cool for 15 minutes.  I took them out within about 3 minutes.  Not a good idea!
Leftover Batter cooked in silicon pan, left to cool for 15 minutes!
Even though the muffin tops look ugly, they taste okay.  I think they should have some cinnamon and maybe other spices in them, though.  Next time.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What You Can Find In a Garden!

The other day I was walking by a flower garden and loved the beautiful petunias.  I thought I might like to paint some of them some day so I took a few pictures.  There was a bonus on this petunia:

Petunia Bug!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Yet Another Failed Food Project

Dear One LOVES hashed brown potatoes.  He likes the kind that are grated and then fried in oil so they are crispy. Well, who doesn't love those?!  BUT pretty often when I am grating the potatoes I am not totally focussed on that job and end up grating my hand or fingers.  This rather puts me off hashed browns for months, to tell you the truth.

Yesterday Dear One happened to go onto Facebook because Son #1 mentioned some photos he had put up that he was concerned would cause his mother terror. (They did!)  Especially since one of Son's hiking  companions had to be carried off the mountain...

Anyway, on Facebook was a hashed brown potato recipe that Dear One just had to have.  He mentioned it very sweetly.  An hour later he mentioned it again so I went to the page and found it.  Not just potatoes but butter, cheese, and eggs!  Anathema to anyone trying to eat plant-only foods.

Well, I love the guy so I did it.  No grating of fingers this time.  After rinsing the grated potatoes and putting them in a kitchen towel to wring them dry I added all the ingredients, stirred them up, used a portion scoop and plopped them onto the sheet pan.  Finally I pushed them into nice shapes.

This is how they came out:

Not at ALL like the looked on Facebook. I call them Failed Hashed Browns as opposed to the Cheesey Hash Brown Potatoes that may have been the name on Facebook.

Dear One said they tasted pretty good, though.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Handwork: Toddler Hoodie Progress

The Yarn Hound in Dennis, Massachusetts sent me a box of yarn and a pattern to contribute to their charity work.  I enjoyed their shop when we were on the Cape for vacation last year.

When the box came the pattern was for a toddler hoodie. I thought I would make one with my own yarn first to figure out the pattern.  This is where I am at the moment:

I am working on the hood currently.
The sleeves are knitted but the underarm seams are not completed.  After the hood itself is knitted there will be the button bands to make and buttons to sew on.  I think it will be cute when done.  It is going to a new baby who will be born in October, since it has actually worked out pretty well.

One thing I learned is that I need to make a Norwegian purl stitch because my regular purl stitches are uneven when compared with my knit stitches.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Munchie Monday: Scrambled Eggs for a Crowd!

We needed lots of scrambled eggs the other day.  All at the same time.  This is what I did:

In a 9 by 13 glass baking dish put 1/2 cup butter (yes, butter, the real thing) then place the pan in the oven at 350 degrees F. to melt.

Break 24 large eggs, one at a time into a small dish, then pour them in a very large bowl.  VERY large.  When the eggs are all in the bowl, use a whisk to make them homogeneous.  Carefully pour in 2 cups milk, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.   Stir well until the milk disappears into the eggs.

Remove the glass dish from the oven.  If the butter is not completely melted, help it out by stirring it around a bit.  With extreme caution, pour the egg mixture into the pan and place the pan back into the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove pan from oven, place on counter and carefully stir the partially cooked eggs.  Return pan to oven for 10-15 more minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and set.

This is all that was left!

Serve immediately, or at least, pretty soon.

These eggs came out nice and fluffy and so soft and delicious.  I ate mine with a nice fat chopped tomato.  No one else did.  Especially not Dear One, but it is summer and the tomatoes in the garden are ripe and so delicious.  Who can resist a tomato with every meal?

One note:  there was a little melted butter on top of the eggs when they were removed from the oven. I stirred it into the eggs before serving them.  I do not think anyone minded the extra butter...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Newsy Bits: Child-Rearing Tip

Tonight I had the privilege of spending  an hour or so with our two youngest local grandchildren: L, a girl, is 7 years old and B, a boy, is 4 years old.

Both were pretty chatty.  I asked if they had seen the interesting clouds this evening.  They said they had.  I asked them if they knew that those clouds were the end of Hurricane Hermine.  They did not.  This brought on a conversation about hurricanes, wind damage, water damage, house damage.

B came over to stand beside me and was weeping.  He asked if people were hurt when the wind and rain hurt their homes.  Would you believe a 4-year-old might have concerns like that?  I did not have any idea.

It took some major back-pedaling, some pictures and explanations about erosion from the weather page on the computer, and even then he was not totally convinced.  ESPECIALLY since L brought up tornadoes and everything getting sucked up into them and whirling around and then falling back to the earth.

Fortunately about that time some "strangers" showed up to talk with us and we were able to address other topics, then go to Grandpa's office for a bit of chocolate.  AND L told him it was okay because no one was really hurt.  I did not know if that was correct so I kept my trap SHUT!!

SO---here is the tip that this old grandma learned today---know who you are talking to and what kinds of fears lurk in the backs of their minds.  I knew about the spiders causing nightmares. I did not know his heart was so tender and concerned, and his mind so sharp, that he would even THINK about hurricanes hurting people.

You learn something every day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Handy Tool: Grout Scrubber

Recently on Facebook I saw a grout-cleaning tool.  It looked simple enough so I searched for the components.

This is what it looks like:

Grout Cleaning Tool:  Homemade
You need a long threaded bolt about 1/4 inch thick, two washer, a nut, and a scrubber for dishwashing that you fill with soap.

You need to drill a hole through the bottom of the scrubber, insert the bolt, put a washer on each side, add the nut to tighten the washers and you are ready to insert the bolt end into your hand-held drill.

Dear One did a GREAT job cleaning the grout in our kitchen tiles.  The floor took several days to finish but he did it!  What an angel!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Food Friday: Easy Blueberry Muffins (Friday came early this week...not good to work when worn down totally)

With kids coming to the house at 6 AM for New Testament classes, Dear One has asked me again this year to make a little something for them to eat.  Tonight I made blueberry muffins.  They will be ready in the morning. I will be able to remain in bed, if I am asleep....

What I did:

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup canola oil
3 large eggs (not extra large or jumbo)
2/3 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups frozen blueberries, NOT thawed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In large bowl stir flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  If the sugar is clumpy, mix it with clean hands until there are no more clumps.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla.  Using a small whisk, whisk until the wet ingredients are completely homogeneous adding in a little dry ingredients as you go.  Using a rubber spatula, remove all the thick batter from the whisk and put the whisk to soak.

Continue stirring the dough gently until all the dry ingredients are dampened.  Dump in the blueberries and continue stirring until they are well-incorporated into the thick batter.

Muffins cooling.  In retrospect, I guess they could have used a little more browning...

Place muffin papers/cupcake papers into a 24-hole muffin tin.  Using a smallish portion scoop, about 3 Tablespoon size, scoop batter into the muffin papers.  There will be slightly more batter than you need for 24 muffins.  Put small amounts of the remaining batter on top of the 6-8 muffins you need to use to empty the batter bowl.  No throwing away the extra dough.  Someone will get an extra teaspoon of muffin and be grateful.  Well, no, someone will  probably not even notice, but you will feel virtuous for not wasting.

Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes.  I checked at 15 minutes then put the pan back for 3 more minutes.  They looked happier then.

Let cool on a rack.

Greeting Card: Another Cute Owl Card

It was time to make some birthday cards.  This time I took out the Stampin' Up owl punch.  This is what I made:

Front of card

 This card was cut at 4.25 by 11.5 inches. I folded it in the middle.  There was the somewhat tricky cut out step using a square die and the Sizzix Big Shot die cutter.  There are lots of videos on how to do it but I am too tired tonight to find them. Just go to YouTube and you will find them.  It is called "partial die cutting".

Inside of card with space for writing a short sentiment.
The card stock was a light cream color. I used a few botanical stamps and a pleasing (to me) green rubber stamp ink to make a design on the card before gluing on the owls.

It is kind of cute, if I do say so myself.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Munchie Monday: Simple Food--Fried Egg Sandwich

Many mornings we have very little time and want a quick bite to eat.  A fried egg sandwich is where we go...at least for Dear One!

This is how we do it:

Put a 12-inch cast iron Lodge skillet onto the burner and turn the gas on medium high for 5-6 minutes.

Add one tablespoon coconut oil.  Stir it around until the oil melts and coats the bottom of the skillet.

Gently tap two (or only one egg if you want) large eggs, one at a time, on the counter beside the stove and lower egg into the skillet.  Breaking the egg open in this way gives less chance of egg shells being cooked with the eggs.  An extra step would be to break the egg into a small dish, inspect the dish for errant egg shells then lower the egg into the skillet. 

Let the egg white begin to cook up a little bit then break the yolk so it spreads into the white.  Put a cover on the skillet for 1 minute.  Remove cover then carefully flip the eggs over and let them cook for another 30 -60 seconds.  Or longer if the egg is not hard enough.  Dear One does NOT like uncooked eggs.  Except in eggnog...

In the meantime, have some nice whole wheat bread toasting.  When the toast is cooked, lay it on a luncheon plate and get out the catsup.

When the eggs are done cooking, lay the eggs on top of one piece of the toast.  Give them a squirt of catsup then cover with the second piece of toast.  Cut across the sandwich and serve.

One variation Dear One loves is to have a slice of pepper jack cheese put between the two eggs.  When we do that, I set the sandwich in the microwave for 15 seconds so the cheese melts, then at that point I cut the sandwich.

Usually, because of time issues,  I just serve Dear One the sandwich and get my own breakfast salad to eat along with him companionably.   Sometimes I take a little more time and add some grapes or other fruit to the plate.  If I am being really nice, I will make him some homemade hashed browns, but that sort of negates the quick mornings.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Food Friday: Orchid's Cool Tangy Noodles

Many years ago when I was working full-time outside our home I was invited to a "Noodle Hour" at lunch time put on by the Asian Studies department at the college where I worked.  I went and was introduced to Orchid's Cool Tangy Noodles.  (There were other noodle dishes served but this was the winner in my opinion.)  I asked for, and received, the recipe, and have made them for special occasions ever since.

The last two weeks I have made them for an event each Saturday.  They are very easy.  They don't taste the same, however, if you substitute ingredients though on occasion I have substituted angel hair pasta for the Chinese egg noodles.  Okay, but not great.

Orchid's Cool Tangy Noodles

1 pound long thin Chinese egg noodles
3 1/2 Tablespoons Chinese or Japanese sesame oil
3 1/2 Tablespoons black soy sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons well-aged Chinese black vinegar

2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/2 - 1 Tablespoon hot chili oil
4 heaping Tablespoons thin-cut green and white scallion rings 

1. Bring a generous amount of unsalted water to a full rolling boil over high heat. 

2. Make the sauce. Mix the sesame oil, black soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, and hot chili oil together and let sit while the noodles cook and cool.  I put all the ingredients into a screw-top mason jar and shake until the salt and sugar dissolve.  This takes longer than you think.

3. Add the noodles to the boiling water and swish them with chopsticks to separate the strands. When the noodles are cooked (2-3 minutes) pour them into a large colander in the sink and run cold water through them until cold. Let drain well and place in large clean bowl. Fluff the noodles in the  colander to release any tangles.

4. Pour the sauce over the cold noodles and toss carefully.  I usually use my clean fingers. I also usually put a clump of the noodles into the mason jar to pull out every bit of the sauce.

5. Garnish with plenty of chopped green onion.  I use way more than the recipe calls for and mix them in rather than just garnishing with them.  Your choice.

This recipe always brings raves. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Harvest Bonus Tip: Use Silpat!

For years I have had a Silpat-like mat.  Mostly it was hidden in my cupboard.  Recently I have tried a number of cost-cutting measures in the interest of family solidarity.  I had been purchasing annually two or more big packages of half-sheet-pan sized parchment paper since so many recipes call for that.

Since one package of the parchment at King Arthur Flour costs almost as much as a new genuine Silpat, I thought I would wait until I was totally out of parchment paper then purchase a Silpat.

That day arrived!.  I ordered a Silpat last Friday.  The Silpat arrived yesterday (Tuesday) and I immediately used it -- along with a second pan on the Silpat-like mat I had previously owned.  I also used it this morning, Wednesday.)  It works perfectly!

One caution that I must remind myself:  it is supposed to be stored flat, NOT folded.  I will have to be creative and figure out a place to do that.

(This is where the Harvest Bonus Tip comes in--roast your vegetables!)  So far I have just roasted two big batches of broccoli.  They both came out well on the real Silpat and only pretty well on the imitation Silpat.  I think cherry tomatoes roast up very well and hope to roast some of them soon.

Cookies are coming up soon, too.  I have heard that some cookies do less well on Silpat. I hope this is not correct.  Of course, I do not make cookies all that often. I wonder if Silpat will work with cinnamon buns....